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Chow Chow
Perhaps the most horribly overbred and misunderstood of the canine world.  The Chow Chow, because of its exquisite "Teddy Bear" like puppies became the breed of choice for puppymills and irresponsible breeders in the mid-eighties.  Very little has changed and in the time since there is likely 10 (or more) irresponsible breeders for each responsible breeder.  For those that are determined to make a Chow Chow a part of their life, serious research is in order to assure that you are getting a sound (mentally and physically) representative of the breed.  Much like the most glamorous of the misunderstood, the Chow Chow has a reputation of exquisite beauty and poor temperament.  As a breed, the Chow Chow is somewhat different, haughty with a sense of self importance and personal space, they are often (but not always) the best choice for a companion around children if only because they sense that children do not allocate the proper respect and handling that they require.  More often, it is a startle reaction (based on their sense of privacy and distance) that results in aggression and/or injury.  Certainly, there are breeds that don't have this particular blend of characteristics and for those people who wish a different sort of dog, they are out there, but for those who find the mystery, history and quality of the Chow Chow appealing, they are a wonderful companion and can certainly achieve a variety of goals that would be considered unlikely when just reviewing their reputation.
By Breed Name
By Breed Name
General Information
Group(s): Non-Sporting Height: average of 17-20 inches
Weight: 45-65 pounds Longevity: early teens
Colors: red, black, blue, cinnamon, cream Coat type: smooth or rough, both with dense undercoat
Recognized Registries: AKC, FCI, NCA and others
Overall Appearance: A compact, heavy boned dog of Arctic type with notable thick coat of solid color (though highlights in the feathered areas is acceptable). Mildly brachiocephalic. More aristocratic than athletic with notable presence.
Personaility - Behavior - Training
Energy Level: moderate to low
General Nature: standoffish to strangers, highly developed sense of personal space, very loving to those they trust and know
  with Children: questionable as children's noise and actions can make them wary and reactive
  with other pets: acceptable with those they are familiar with
  with dogs: variable; generally the Chow does not initiate fights nor do they stand down from one
Socialization requirements: extensive, the Chow requires and deserves extensive handling so that their need for personal space does not become an excuse for misplaced aggression
Ideal home characteristics: dedicated to the building of a strong relationship and communication with their dog, an exceptional companion for a quiet household that prefers an aristocratic, devoutly loyal companion
Temperament Notes: Haughty, standoffish with typically a strong sense of self. Sudden attention (hugging, eye contact, approach) by strangers or those they don't know well can initiate a strong reaction in all but the most socialized and trusting.
Training requirement: basic manners with heavy emphasis on socializing
Trainer notes: The Chow Chow is not to be overlooked as a training partner for any endeavor (although athletics and speed are generally not their forte') for the trainer that enjoys the challenge of motivating a relatively self-contained partner.  Brilliantly intelligent, many trainers have failed to succeed in training a Chow because they Chow would recognize patterns (including patterns of avoiding training) and thus stay a step ahead of their trainer.  Overall the Chow is a companion unlike virtually any other (with the possible exception of "cousins" like the Shar Pei), these differences are a joy to the fancier of the Chow who studies to understand and appreciate them fully.  For the person who fails to pursue this, it can be a source of hazard and anxiety.
Background Information
Year range of first recognition: 2000-3000 years ago
Country of Origin: China
Original Function: hunting/guard dogs as well as meat and fur.
History: Kept by the fierce Mongols as hunting and guard dogs as well as for meat and fur.
Adoption Information
Deviations from Standard: refinement, excessive muzzle, poor temperament, poor coat (lack of undercoat)
Health Notes: entropion, intolerant of heat or anesthesia, eye problems, seizures, dysplasia, liver dysfunction
Health Testing: CERF, OFA
Questions to ask Breeder:  - The Breeder Questions as listed here provided with explanations and answers you will want to be looking for!

  • How long have you had Chows?
  • How often do you have puppies?
  • Do you plan on keeping a puppy from this litter?
  • What qualities do you look for in your breeding stock (show titles, performance titles, etc.).
  • What did you find complimentary about this breeding pair?
  • What health clearances do you do on your breeding stock?
  • What health issues have you seen in the breed?
  • Do you have a written contract and puppy guarantee?
  • What age do you allow puppies to go to their homes?
  • Do you have any specific handling, training and socialization advice to offer?
  • What do you consider to be proper Chow temperament?
  • What is your top priority in your breeding program?
  • Where did you get the dogs in your breeding program?
Web Sites:

There seems to be no reference to a nationally organized Chow Chow Rescue (in the US) online; as such the following rescues are regional, contact them for references of rescues in your area (or how to start one if one doesn't already exist). - Chow Chow Rescue of Northern VA West Texas Chow Chow Rescue - Wisconsin Chow Chow Rescue - Northwest Chow Chow Rescue Chow Chow Rescue and Foster Care of Illinois


Other Resources
Breed standard: - Chow Chow Club of America Standard, pet the Chow in the middle of the homepage to see the standard, site lacks information that each puppy buyer requires - breeder code of ethics, health issues/tesing information and rescue

Breeder Ethics:

The only code of ethics that the DigitalDog staff could currently find available online is from the Society for the Preservation of the Smooth Coated Chow.  Other sites reference a "rigorous" code of ethics offered by the Chow Chow Club, but it could not be found by any searches we did.  If someone knows of the link of this document please forward it to DigitalDog.

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